Ontario minister announces new waste strategy, kills Adams Mine

According to a news release from Ontario’s environment ministry dated today (April 5), “In keeping its commitment to clean, livable communities, the McGuinty government has announced a strategy to better manage Ontario’s waste and reduce the province’s reliance on landfills.”

“The government’s strategy is a focus on achieving 60 per cent waste diversion.”

The news conference (complete text at end of this detailed news item) also featured an announcement that the minister is killing off the Adams Mine project as a potential landfill.

The Adams Mine legislation:

The press backgrounder states: “The McGuinty government is keeping its commitment to address the proposed Adams Mine landfill in northern Ontario. To protect the environment, the government has introduced draft legislation that would, if passed, prohibit the Adams Mine site from becoming a landfill.

“The legislation the Adams Mine Lake Act, 2004 is intended to prohibit the use of lakes as landfill sites, prevent the use of the Adams Mine site as a landfill, and deal with matters related to the government taking this action.

“The legislation would amend the Environmental Protection Act to prevent the use of lakes as landfill sites. For the purposes of the legislation, a lake would include a body of surface water that results from human activities, and directly influences or is directly influenced by groundwater, including land that is covered by water on the date the legislation comes into effect.

“The amendment would not apply to a body of water that is less than one hectare in area.

“The legislation would void any approvals and permits related to the Adams Mine project issued by the Ministry of the Environment prior to the date the legislation comes into effect. The legislation would also nullify any applications for permits under consideration by the Ministry of the Environment as of the date the legislation comes into effect.

“The legislation would also extinguish any agreement of purchase and sale of the adjacent Crown land that may have been entered into between the Ministry of Natural Resources and the owner of the Adams Mine. Any related legal action against the Crown that may exist on the date the legislation comes into effect would be extinguished by the legislation. The legislation would also prevent any further legal action being taken against the Crown as a result of the legislation.

“The legislation makes it clear that the Adams Mine property is not being expropriated.

“The legislation requires the province to pay the owner of the Adams Mine compensation for expenses incurred.

“Expenses would be defined as those incurred for the purpose of developing the Adams Mine landfill, and would include:

the acquisition of the Adams Mine site;
surveys, studies and testing;
engineering and design services;
legal services;
marketing and promotion;
property taxes;
cost of seeking government approvals;
cost of seeking acquisition of Crown Land.

“The fair market value of the site on the date the legislation comes into effect would be deducted from the amount of expenses.

“Compensation would not be paid for any future profits the owner would have received as a result of operating a landfill at the Adams Mine site.

“The proposed legislation provides for a mechanism for the owner to obtain compensation. Within 120 days of the date the legislation comes into effect, the owner would provide the Crown with the necessary records to support the claims for compensation.

“Where there is agreement between the owner and the Crown on items for which compensation is being sought, compensation would be paid. For any claims that are in dispute, the owner or the Crown can apply to the courts for a determination of the amount of compensation.

Discussion Paper on 60 per cent waste diversion:

According to the release, “There is a waste management challenge in Ontario today. The continued export of Ontario waste, particularly from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), to the United States is cause for concern. GTA municipalities have not been able to develop a sustainable, Ontario-based, long-term waste management solution.

“Increasing the diversion of non-hazardous waste from disposal will help to meet this challenge and achieve the government’s commitment to clean, livable communities with the key result of reducing the rate of green space lost.

“To achieve this goal, the government will release a discussion paper on options for achieving 60 per cent waste diversion from disposal and how they might be implemented in an economic and practical manner. The paper will include the following for discussion:

Setting province-wide diversion objectives
Setting diversion targets for residential waste that could be achieved through improvements to municipal blue box programs and increased composting
Accelerating and expanding centralized composting in Ontario’s largest municipalities
Developing a financing strategy for centralized composting, including cost recovery mechanisms, municipal revenue generation, public-private partnerships, shared infrastructure agreements, and provincial assistance in the form of grants or loans
Examining feasibility of phasing in a ban on organics and other recyclable materials in Ontario landfills
Introducing new options for source separation for the industrial, commercial and institutional (IC&I) sectors
Considering new and emerging waste management technologies
Promoting packaging reduction and the increase of recycled content in paper and packaging
Undertaking public education and awareness activities to promote 3Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle)
Initiating province-wide tracking of waste going to landfill or export

Improvements to the Environmental Assessment Process:

The release continues: “As the government moves forward to increase waste diversion, actions need to be taken to improve the environmental assessment (EA) process to support its waste management objectives.

“The Ministry of the Environment will set up an advisory panel of expert practitioners to develop proposals on possible approaches to improving the environmental assessment process for waste management facilities, transit and transportation projects and clean energy facilities.

“Panel members would include representatives from the municipal, waste management and clean energy sectors, the environmental community, academics, the consulting industry and the legal community.

“The advisory panel will be asked to ensure recommendations maintain, or enhance, existing levels of environmental protection.

“The advisory panel will:
identify key impediments to obtaining timely approvals for projects subject to the environmental assessment process; and
examine the existing environmental assessment process and identify potential improvements by category of activity (e.g., in the areas of guidance, the review process, the environmental assessment approvals process, other approvals necessary following environmental assessment approval).

Cooperation on Environmental Assessment Process:

“A draft framework agreement between Ontario and the federal government on environmental assessment cooperation, to be released for comment, will provide a cooperative process for those projects subject to both federal and provincial environmental assessment legislation. The draft agreement will outline the roles and responsibilities for each level of government.

“Projects that are typically subject to both Acts include municipal or provincial projects that require federal environmental certificates, permits, licenses, or involve federal funding, like transportation infrastructure.

“The agreement leaves legislative or decision-making responsibilities of
each government intact. Any projects requiring both provincial and federal EA approvals will still require separate approvals. The goal is to avoid the unnecessary duplica
tion, delays and uncertainty that could arise from separate environmental assessment processes while, at the same time, protecting the environment.

Complete text of the minister’s press conference is below.

Contacts: Art Chamberlain, Minister’s Office, (416) 314-5139 or John Steele, Minister’s Office, Communications Branch (416) 314-6666.


Notes for remarks by The Honourable Leona Dombrowsky, Minister of the Environment and MPP for Hastings-Frontenac-Lennox & Addington

Press Conference: Announcing Waste Management Strategy

Queen’s Park, Toronto, April 5, 2004

I want to thank everyone for coming out today.

This afternoon in the Ontario Legislature, I will introduce the Adams Mine Lake Act.

If passed, the Act would stop the Adams Mine landfill proposal once and for all.

The Adams Mine Lake Act would prohibit the disposal of waste at the Adams Mine site and prevent it from ever being used as a landfill.

It would revoke all existing approvals dealing with the Adams Mine site.

It would remove the ability for any party to take legal action against the government on these decisions.

It would outline a plan to provide reasonable compensation for the owner of the Adams Mine site.

And, most notably, this legislation would amend the Environmental Protection Act to disallow the use of any lake larger than one hectare as a landfill site.

The endless proposals and challenges around Adams Mine have created too much uncertainty, and for too long have drained the energy and resources of local communities. For too long it has created divisiveness.

We have promised to address the situation. Today, we are keeping that promise.

And we are making sure that no other community gets put into a similar situation.

The Adams Mine Lake Act is one part of a broader announcement that will strengthen our communities.

Today, the McGuinty government is delivering real and positive changes to ensure that communities across Ontario are clean and liveable.

Ontarians know clean communities mean a better quality of life. To deliver the results they want, we must take action. As our population grows, so does the challenge of dealing with our waste.

Ontario is therefore setting an ambitious new provincial target: to divert 60 per cent of waste from disposal by 2008.

In order to reach our goals, we need to shift our approach to waste management. We are doing this in three major ways.

First, we will release a discussion paper on waste diversion options this spring.

We will look at a number of options for improving waste diversion, including: increasing organic diversion programs like the green bin program in Toronto; expanding central composting facilities; and the role of new technologies in increasing waste diversion rates in Ontario.

Second, we will make improvements to the environmental assessment process for waste management facilities, transit, provincial highways and clean energy projects. We will establish an advisory panel to recommend improvements to the system that will restore the environmental assessment process as an effective tool in managing the environment.

Third, we will clarify the environmental assessment process by entering into a framework agreement with the federal government. Projects that are subject to both provincial and federal jurisdictions can be managed in a more co-ordinated way between the two levels of government.

The McGuinty government believes in the need to ensure clean, liveable communities. That is why we are moving forward with sustainable and responsible strategies for waste diversion. The people of Ontario deserve no less.

Thank you.